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Urgent care professionals recognized early on that patients were not seeking care for complaints they would have presented with before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now there are data backing up that belief. According to information gathered by the consulting firm Advisory Board, total urgent care center volumes dropped 50% in the spring. As you know, they’ve come back strong since then, although Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles reports that its urgent care locations are still down in overall patient visits—and the administration’s belief is that too many patients are still fearful of venturing out to a facility. In an article posted to the Cedars-Sinai website, urgent care head Stacy Tarradath, MD opined that the public just doesn’t “understand the precautions we put in place to prevents the spread of COVID-19.” The problem for patients is that making such choices is more dangerous than the actual risk of contracting the virus. Relatively minor illness can bloom into a medical emergency without timely care. The answer might be in doing everything you can to reassure patients that you take their risk of infection as seriously as they do. Update your website, social media, and signage with information on the new procedures you’ve implemented—channeling potential COVID-19 patients to other locations, requiring masks and social distancing for everyone on site (including staff), limiting visitors to support social distancing, or offering telemedicine. Patients need care, but also confidence in your ability to provide it safely. Help them have it.

You Knew It All Along, but Now There’s Proof—Delaying Care May Be Riskier Than COVID-19
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